Mount View Special Riding Association (MVSRA) started out 2010 with a great loss: one of our Association founders - Austin Fisher - passed away. Many of our volunteers were able to attend the unique funeral full of people of all walks of life including farmers, students, red hat ladies and Christian bikers. Austin knew how much the outside of a horse was good for the inside of a man. His vision led him and his wife to a workshop at the Lethbridge Handicapped Riding Association in the days of Liz Allen (I think Liz was the first CanTRA instructor in Alberta), Helen Oliver and Joy Pritchard. Several volunteers that started with Austin are still involved, since the Association's inception in 1982. It was noted at our last board meeting that Austin wasn't a CEO, politically or educationally noteworthy, but his life impacted a vast amount of people. His family asked that memorial tributes be made to MVSRA, for which we are very grateful. MVSRA is a very dedicated and diligent group that will continue to honour Austin Fisher and his life of giving. Following are excerpts from his eulogy:
Charles Austin Fisher was born June 27, 1939 in Calgary to Robert and Marjorie Fisher. Austin married his soulmate Betty Snell in 1962. They lived on the family farm and together they farmed, and raised 4 children in the Midway area. Austin also drove school bus for many years. Austin was at home and surrounded by the love of his family when he passed away on January 1, 2010.
In his younger days, team roping, horseback riding and rodeos were some of Austin's favourite pastimes. Austin was truly a family man - many hours were spent on the road to the kids' activities over the years. Austin and Betty were foster parents to over 50 children throughout the years, many with special needs. Austin's patience, understanding and guidance helped many of them turn their lives around. He always did his best to help others and asked for nothing in return.
In 1982, Austin and Betty, along with their children, and a wonderful group of volunteers started the Mountain View Handicapped Riding Association in Olds, Alberta. The name has since been changed to Mount View Special Riding Association, but the club still operates, and still helps special needs people of all ages through therapeutic horseback riding. Austin's words of praise and encouragement left a lasting impression with the riders as they would always ask about him.
Austin was an amazing man whose love for the family he was born into, the family he married into, and the family he raised was self-evident. He was the kind of man who would give you the shirt off his back, then ask Betty to find another one to give away too. Austin was a wonderful husband, dedicated father, devoted grandfather and the best friend anyone could ever ask for. He was a good man.
Mary, Mary - what can I say?
Mary, my sister, was not a paragon. Far from it!! She was a complex person with a quick mind and a twisted sense of humour. She was many things but she was never boring. She had a brave and ferocious spirit and a fierce hold on life. I suppose these were some of the reasons I loved her so much. She was also very human and full of the most lovely imperfections, which I think helped to make her such an amazingly marvelous person. I will always miss her and love her and am so grateful to have had her in my life.
This past year Mary was only in the hospital in the spring and then in December - a much better year than 2014. The December admission lasted 10 days and she was discharged the day of her Christmas party at Fanning. The loved the party and the music and was very happy.
We were able to enjoy numerous outings and music events throughout the year - the Artisan Gardens at Fish Creek Provincial Park, day trips to William Watson Lodge in Kananaskis and Bragg Creek, a Stampede dinner and music at Dad's Blues music and a Folk Festival at Eau Claire Market, Carifest, and Marda Gras (a New Orleans type street festival with excellent music). We also spent a day at the Spruce Meadows Masters with Muffy and Lorena and many days visiting Dad and enjoying whatever was happening at his place.
"She has moved on to her next adventure, joining Mom and Dakota and leaving behind her a trail of broken hearts and happy memories." Jeanne (aka "Mary's Sister")